Lovejoy’s Gates commits to Ole Miss

HAMPTON — The footballs haven’t even rolled out for spring practice yet. The 2013 seniors still haven’t grabbed their high school diplomas. But Lovejoy’s class of 2014 has already seen its first commit.

That would be rising senior linebacker Demarquis Gates.

The 6-foot-2, 220 pounder committed to Ole Miss Thursday, following a stellar junior season, where he accounted for 90 total tackles (75 solo) and 14 for losses. He also recorded four sacks and forced three fumbles with one recovery.

“Obviously I’m thrilled for him,” Lovejoy coach Al Hughes said. “It’s a big burden off of him. Now he can concentrate on his senior year and not worry about all the other pressure that comes with recruiting.”

And the scary thing for future Lovejoy opponents is that Hughes feels like Gates’ senior year may be his best.

“I’m definitely thinking he should be even better than what he was last year,” Hughes said. “If he is, we’ll have a great season.”

If Gates’ commitment holds, he’ll be the second Lovejoy player to go to Ole Miss in as many years.

Former tight end Arshad Jackson signed a letter of intent in February to become a part of the Rebels’ blockbuster recruiting class that included the nation’s consensus No. 1 player, and Grayson star Robert Nkemdiche.

“I just think that because of A.J. going in first and getting Lovejoy’s name recognized by the Ole Miss people allowed Gates to benefit from that recruiting experience,” Hughes said.